Tiny Crews

Discuss the Traveller RPG and its many settings
ChalkLine
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Tiny Crews

Postby ChalkLine » Thu May 23, 2019 1:23 pm

If I wanted to recreate the Nostromo from the movie Alien I'd need to have a very small crew.

I was wondering if anyone has looked at crew reduction and how they did it?

It just seems to me that the enormous amount of engineers and so on don't really reflect current technology trends.

(Yes, I know Traveller is different)
AnotherDilbert
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Re: Tiny Crews

Postby AnotherDilbert » Thu May 23, 2019 1:45 pm

Software (Virtual Crew & Expert+Intellect) and Robots can take care of most things.

Large ships might be able to use the Large Ships rule (HG, p20) to reduce massive crews.
Annatar Giftbringer
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Re: Tiny Crews

Postby Annatar Giftbringer » Thu May 23, 2019 2:04 pm

The Traveller companion has a chapter on starship automation, with rules to reduce crew requirements up to 40%.
ChalkLine
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Re: Tiny Crews

Postby ChalkLine » Thu May 23, 2019 2:14 pm

Annatar Giftbringer wrote:
Thu May 23, 2019 2:04 pm
The Traveller companion has a chapter on starship automation, with rules to reduce crew requirements up to 40%.
Is that a Mongoose publication?
Moppy
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Re: Tiny Crews

Postby Moppy » Thu May 23, 2019 2:17 pm

As well the automation software and robots in the rulebook, remember that crew requirement rules also include working practices and legal requirements.

Medic? You don't need a medic if the space police don't know you don't have one.

So you have some leeway, especially outside the Imperium where different laws apply.

The drive starts when you push a button on the helm, and if it can't run for a day without being fussed over, it's actually busted. Do you need an engineer fo a short trip?

It's often said that some modern freighters (with crews of about 20) can now be single-manned from the wheelhouse, except for needing some hands to throw lines. You should, of course, never try this.
Last edited by Moppy on Thu May 23, 2019 2:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Annatar Giftbringer
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Re: Tiny Crews

Postby Annatar Giftbringer » Thu May 23, 2019 2:20 pm

ChalkLine wrote:
Thu May 23, 2019 2:14 pm
Annatar Giftbringer wrote:
Thu May 23, 2019 2:04 pm
The Traveller companion has a chapter on starship automation, with rules to reduce crew requirements up to 40%.
Is that a Mongoose publication?
Yup:
https://www.mongoosepublishing.com/trav ... anion.html
Pyromancer
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Re: Tiny Crews

Postby Pyromancer » Thu May 23, 2019 7:01 pm

There's a difference between "Can you do this in a pinch?", "Is this a long term sustainable solution?" and "Is this an economical solution?"

I'd guess you could ditch engineers as crew completely and replace them by thorough maintenance between trips. Of course, you'd need enough maintenance facilities at every port to do this, and a ship in port is not flying, and thus not earning money. So it probably is the financially sound solution to have a bunch of engineers on board that do what they can in flight, so that you can get away with one big maintenance stop per year.
phavoc
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Re: Tiny Crews

Postby phavoc » Thu May 23, 2019 7:46 pm

The Madrid Maersk is the 2nd largest container ship in the world. In Traveller terms its about 130,000 Dtons (400m long, 58m wide, and about 80m tall with cargo/bridge/below the waterline depth). The crew for this 200,000 gross ton vessel? 28.

Traveller ships have even less crew needs than modern ones, assuming they are jump-capable, since there is absolutely nothing for the crew to manage during jump other than keeping the lights on. Out of jump the crew has to do the same things a ship on the high seas does - manage the watch, navigate to/from their port, and oversee cargo stowage and such.

So having smaller crews is fine. But keep in mind that a smaller crew can do less to respond to an emergency, or do maintenance while the ship is not sitting in a dock. Commercial cargo crews today basically have watchkeeping on the bridge, watchkeeping in the engineering spaces, someone is cooking, and then deckhands do all the scutwork when they aren't docking.

Warships, on the other hand, do a lot more, since they have weapons to maintain, train and practice drills, cook, clean, etc, etc. And they have to be able to depart the ship in small craft for boarding inspections, man weapons to provide cover, maintain small craft, have damage control parties, etc, etc. Warship crews have a lot more tasks and duties than civilian ones.
Reynard
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Re: Tiny Crews

Postby Reynard » Thu May 23, 2019 8:27 pm

Modern ships with very small crews have one big advantage, they are on Earth not relatively far from anywhere. Help will be there long before the food runs out and there's plenty of air all around. Only a corporation with lawyers and accountants saying it's worth the risk will let their ships run in the vacuum of space and the void of jump with little to no emergency support.

Still is an interesting concept of a fully automated mining/refinery facility and hauler with a huge ship attached and acting as a tug.
https://alienanthology.fandom.com/wiki/USCSS_Nostromo
Moppy
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Re: Tiny Crews

Postby Moppy » Thu May 23, 2019 9:01 pm

master, chief, couple of navigation watch officers, engineer, 2nd engineer, couple of engi watch officers, handful of deckhands with paint cans, handful of engine techs with oil cans, chef, steward (they carry a handful of passengers on a container freighter) and the company commissar (shipping line/owners representative) and a cadet or 2. security team in pirate spots.

they have to satisfy the regulations for minimum manning so it won't get much smaller than about 13 on a big container ship until the law changes. obviously the commisar and cadets are superrnumary.

edit: private yachts do a lot of things to save on manning, most yacht chefs have stood navigation watch.
baithammer
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Re: Tiny Crews

Postby baithammer » Fri May 24, 2019 3:57 am

Engineer includes the engineering crew, ie not actual Engineers.
Condottiere
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Re: Tiny Crews

Postby Condottiere » Fri May 24, 2019 8:12 am

1. Take a creative interpretation approach to the crewing rules.

2. Crewmembers could wear multiple hats, and like Special Forces, be cross trained in various disciplines.

3. Scoutships can be crewed by one scout.

4. In theory, you only need to actively supervise a jump drive during the build up to transitioning, and perhaps the immediate cooldown period after dropping into the rabbit hole.

5. Ocean going ships with minimal crews have the option for calling in specialists who could be despatched by helicopters, if they need assistance; to be fair, as long as food and life support doesn't run out, that's also possible for malfunctioning starships, except if you're stuck in warp.
Moppy
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Re: Tiny Crews

Postby Moppy » Fri May 24, 2019 8:48 am

Depending on where at sea you are, it can take a few days to reach you. Bad weather can also ruin the schedule.

Locatoin is not a problem for a container ship on a well used route but survey ships and ocean racers can get into some really isolated places.

Once you make it to port, if you need a specialised repair part that can't fit in an airplane (or the island has no airport) it can take weeks.
phavoc
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Re: Tiny Crews

Postby phavoc » Fri May 24, 2019 3:30 pm

Reynard wrote:
Thu May 23, 2019 8:27 pm
Modern ships with very small crews have one big advantage, they are on Earth not relatively far from anywhere. Help will be there long before the food runs out and there's plenty of air all around. Only a corporation with lawyers and accountants saying it's worth the risk will let their ships run in the vacuum of space and the void of jump with little to no emergency support.

Still is an interesting concept of a fully automated mining/refinery facility and hauler with a huge ship attached and acting as a tug.
https://alienanthology.fandom.com/wiki/USCSS_Nostromo
In jump space there is no help available, no bad weather, no hurricanes, etc. If the crew dies the ship will emerge from jump on its own. So in this case a jump freighter is in even a better position than a ship at sea. Time from 100D to a planet's orbit, even at 1-G, is shorter than what ships will do.

Which, as a safety precaution, I would expect most ships to come to a stop relative to their existing star before making the jump. Why? Because if the crew does succumb to some sort of disease, explosion, or something that would render them all dead, then when it emerges it won't be a kinetic energy bombardment vehicle prior to slamming into the planet. Remember that not every planet is going to have an armed contingent of ships available on call and in position to destroy an incoming vessel/missile.
ChalkLine
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Re: Tiny Crews

Postby ChalkLine » Fri May 24, 2019 7:16 pm

Reynard wrote:
Thu May 23, 2019 8:27 pm
Modern ships with very small crews have one big advantage, they are on Earth not relatively far from anywhere. Help will be there long before the food runs out and there's plenty of air all around. Only a corporation with lawyers and accountants saying it's worth the risk will let their ships run in the vacuum of space and the void of jump with little to no emergency support.
Actually my brother is a master mariner 4 ('captain') and he was in the Bass Straight in a storm and the helos couldn't get to them and the ship nearly sunk. They wouldn't have been 100km from the coast
WingedCat
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Re: Tiny Crews

Postby WingedCat » Mon Jun 10, 2019 7:36 am

In addition to the crew reduction rules in Traveller Companion, and virtual crew software to handle pilot/gunner/sensor ops, you might consider having droids that can fill engineer and mechanic positions, if you're building at a high enough TL. (Arguably, robot-filled crew positions don't count toward officer and medic requirements.) Most polities in the OTU don't go in for that, preferring lots of labor on large capital ships, but there's nothing to say that an oddball corporation or some polity outside the majors wouldn't do it.

Or of course you could build small enough that you don't need a crew. If you only have 34.9 tons total of power plant, jump drive, maneuver drive, and reaction drive (usually you'll only have at most 2 of jump, maneuver, and reaction drive), that's 0 engineers.

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